Following Aston Villa’s 2-1 defeat at last season’s playoff finalists Reading, Steve Bruce was clear in his message. The former Manchester United man felt that his side had been unlucky and that if he was given time that he could turn the midlands club around.
However, it is the opinion of many Villa fans that Bruce, who in 10 months into his tenure, has already had enough time to solve the issues plaguing the club and that it is time for him to move on. This came to a head with the jeering from some of the 4,000 travelling fans in Berkshire on Tuesday night.
On paper, Villa have an enviable set up. They have an expensive and talented playing squad, a manager with a proven track record of achieving promotion to the top flight, Premier League standard training facilities and a large, committed set of supporters. Unfortunately for Aston Villa, and as simple as it may sound, you don’t win anything on paper.
Perhaps the biggest issue that is facing Steve Bruce is his side’s woeful away form. The Midlands club have won just four of their last 43 away league games – keeping a clean sheet in just three of their last 21.
Villa were thumped 3-0 by Cardiff in their opening league away game of the season and then were defeated 2-1 by Reading at the Madejski Stadium. The score against the latter may sound more promising but the Midlands club’s performance was anything but.
Reading controlled large portions of the game and, while Bruce may be right in saying that it would have been a different game if youngster Andre Green had finished his golden chance to put Villa ahead in the first half, anything other than a Reading win would have been unrepresentative of the game as a whole.
The frustration of the Villa fanbase is likely to be amplified by the fact that both Birmingham City and Wolves have started their campaigns in a far more positive fashion than their old rivals.
Wolves are currently unbeaten at this early point of the season and Birmingham rivals have far more reasons to be positive this year after a dismal campaign last time out. Villa appear to be struggling with the same old problems that the club have encountered over the last few seasons.
Many will feel that the club needs a complete overhaul. Many of the squad will be on huge wages having played for the team during their time in the Premier League and are currently not showing their worth on the pitch.
The likes of Micah Richards, Gabby Agbonlahor and Alan Hutton are individuals that some Villa fans would be happy to see the back of, with young, hungry players, who are desperate to prove themselves in the Championship, waiting in the wings to replace them.
In defence of Steve Bruce, he has a fantastic record of getting clubs promoted into the Premier League. He achieved the feat twice with Villa’s fierce rivals Birmingham City before, once again, repeating the trick twice with Hull City. The former Manchester United captain also has experienced managing in the top flight, albeit with mixed success.
However, Bruce has made some odd decisions, including stripping James Chester of the captaincy in favour of new signing John Terry. Chester looks to be struggling for form as a result and the former Chelsea man Terry has so far failed to inspire what is shaky as they have conceded six goals in their opening three league games and have no clean sheets in all competitions.
At this early point of the season it is likely that some fans will be saying that it is too soon for a manager to be getting sacked. While we may only be three league games into the season, Bruce has been given, at least in the current footballing climate, plenty of time to turn Villa around.
The former Manchester United man has spent millions of pounds adding 14 new faces over two transfer windows and has still failed to instil any belief from the fans or see any positive progression on the pitch.
This may sound like a damning verdict but you can understand the frustrations of Villa fans when they are seeing other Championship clubs employ managers and see quick success on far less funding.
While money doesn’t necessarily ensure success, you would expect a manager working with war chest to find it easier than working on a shoestring budget. While Steve Bruce has a solid record managing in the Championship, which is notoriously tough league to get out of, success at one club does not guarantee success at another.